From the Podium to the 15th Floor

Again – Chapter 30 – JohnA Passaro


It’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Jimmy Buffet


After winning a Section XI Title most families go out to eat that night to celebrate.

My family did not.

Fifteen minutes after Travis stepped off the top step of the podium, we were in our truck, on our way home so BettyJane could get Jess to the hospital.

My calculations last week were dead on.

We arrived home by 11 pm.

Jess was at Stony Brook University Hospital by 1 am.

BettyJane and I immediately got on schedule.

She took the day shift, and I took the night shift.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, there are two weeks between the Section XI and the New York State Tournaments.


It is a cruel curveball thrown at athletes who rely on a very strict disciple, structure, and routine.

The week before the New York State Tournament is winter break from school, a time when a wrestler’s discipline, structure, and routine are tested.

Winter break means having to fill eight more hours in the day.

Eight hours more to stay busy, to think, to drive yourself crazy.

Eight more hours to eat.

For the whole season, the routine has been the same – school until 2:00, practice from 2:30 – 5:00 pm, dinner, Xbox, sleep.

Repeat indefinitely.

Now, for the wrestlers who have made it to the most important part of the season, that routine has changed.

Eight hours have been added to each of their days, almost as a cruel test.

Eight hours more to stay away from food.

Eight hours more to stay away from your phone.

Eight hours more to stay disciplined when all of your friends let loose and take the time off from school to unwind.

To be teenagers.

Eight more hours that BettyJane and I will not be around.


February 21st, 2014

It is Friday night and I am about to drive up to Stony Brook Hospital to switch with BettyJane.

Jess has double pneumonia.

“Dad, I am going out,” Travis says to me right before I am about to leave.

“Where are you going?” I ask.

“Coach Patrovich asked me to come over to have something to eat and watch a movie. Adam and Jimmy are already there.”

I smile; it is exactly what I need right now, a coach who cares as much about my son as I do as his parent.


Read the next chapter – A Great Friend Gives You the Shirt Off His Wall


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